Post-Election Confusion

Well, it’s been some four days since the UK General Election, and it’s still not clear who will be forming the next government.

I voted just as soon as I got back from work. The polling station was well organised, with four tables with two people each and three other attendants on hand. There was a steady stream of people coming and going, with about fifteen to twenty people voting at any one time. It was brisk, efficient and friendly. I understand that the situation was somewhat different elsewhere, and it really reflected badly on the polls overall. Gordon Brown, the incumbent MP and Prime Minister won the constituency easily with 64.5% of the vote (the nearest challengers were the SNP who got 14.3%, with the LibDems and Tories almost equal with 9%).

I was surprised that the Tories even got a seat in Scotland, holding their sole seat from the 2005 election. Quite frankly Tories are not welcome in Scotland, consistently in fourth place in polls. While there is widespread dislike of New Labour here, the spectre of a Tory government is enough to reinforce Labour’s stronghold here. There is also a general dislike on a completely personal level towards the personalities of both Mr. Cameron and Mr. Clegg who honestly do come across as toffs, very superficial and disconnected from the working class. As much as I am opposed to New Labour, I admit Mr. Brown is the only one of the three I actually respect and would engage in a discussion with should I see him at the football.

On Friday I left Scotland to visit some family down in England, in the heart of Tory-land, near Huntingdon. Throughout Edinburgh and Fife I have only come across one lonely and slightly pathetic pro-Conservative sign. Shortly after entering England the frequency of Conservative signs increased almost exponetionally the further south I came. It was interesting speaking with Conservative supporters and members over the weekend, and I marvelled at the fundamentally different perspectives on politics from Scotland to (albeit rural) England.

It was especially interesting hearing the perspective of Tories as the negotiations between them and the LibDems got under way. Despite the confidence shown on the TV, I didn’t meet one Tory supporter who believed a Lib-Con coalition (of some sort) would be the result. They were convinced that there would instead be a Lib-Lab-Nationalists coalition. At the same time I was in touch with friends who support the LibDems and they were expressing their revulsion at the idea of working with the Tories and were adamant they would vote Green or Labour next time. My Labour friends started off Friday and Saturday depressed, convinced Monday would see a Lib-Con coalition. On Sunday the Labour mood seemed to change with people split on the possibility of a Lib-Lab coalition materialising, or Labour (as Opposition) engineering an Autumn election and wiping out the LibDem vote, returning to power with a full majority.

With Gordon Brown’s announcement that he intends to resign it seems as if the possibility of a Lib-Lab-Nats coalition could become a reality in the next 48hrs. The situation remains pretty fluid here, and the level of political discussion here is getting quite heated. I personally am supportive of a Lib-Lab-Nats coalition but it’s not clear whether that will (a) happen; or (b) be truly progressive and usher in electoral reform amongst other policies.

One story of the election which seems to be hidden (perhaps deliberately?) is that in a small number of seats the Labour incumbent actually increased their vote share; in most other Labour held seats there was a swing of support going towards the Tories. Gordon Brown’s constituency was one of these, but the others were all won by Labour MPs who have been actively fighting New Labour and pushing their own socialist platform rather than the official Labour manifesto. These MPs are Mike Wood (Batley & Spen), Katy Clark (Ayrshire North & Arran), Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North), Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) and John McDonnell (Hayes & Harlington). All of which should make for some interesting dynamics in the ensuing leadership election for Labour with Mr. Brown’s announcement.

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Post-Election Confusion

  1. So, to be clear, you have no issue with a coalition of Lib-Lab-Nationalists on the grounds that it is somehow “undemocratic”?

    One of my biggest pet peeves about this election so far is the prevalence of the view that because the conservatives won more seats then Labour they should have the right to govern regardless of their lack of a majority. As far as I can tell the policies of Labour, the Lib-Dems, the SNP and PC are closer ideologically than the policies of the Conservatives and Lib-Dems are. Therefore to me it would seem that since more people voted for the Lib-Lab-Nationalist group (i.e. they support their policies/ideologies) than for the Conservatives it would make more sense for them to form a coalition with a compromise manifesto sharing the same broad ideology than for the lib-dems to prop up a party that they share less with ideologically.

    [/rant]

  2. No, I have no problems with coalition governments. Had the Lab-Lib-Nats coalition gone ahead the right-wing press would have blasted them as a ‘coaltion of losers’ or undemocratic, but the Lib-Con coalition is the same thing. As I see it a coalition government is better than a one-party government, at least under our existing Westminster system.

    With the LibDems you have to keep in mind that they have two main wings, a social one and a market liberal one (centred around the Orange Book faction). The market liberal wing is dominant (as I understand it) in the LibDem leadership, the social one being more dominant in the grassroots. There are enough connections between the market liberals and the Tories to make it work between them, although I expect an exodus of the social wing towards the Greens and Labour from now on.

  3. I agree with you there Johnny.

    I don’t know the differance between a Lab-lib-Nat and a fly swatter. And really I don’t care as long as good governance is produced.

    As for the Orange Book Faction, does that have anything to do with Apple’s?

    I’ll tell you what though…if my wings go green, the “Perdue” company are gonna be first on the list my lawyer will soo.

    Gotta run……………….

  4. Just to clarify, the ‘Organge Book Faction’ is one of the two main internal factions of the Liberal Democratic Party and represents their market liberal wing. It is named after a book called ‘The Orange Book – Reclaiming Liberalism’ (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Orange_Book:_Reclaiming_Liberalism) and is internally opposed by the Beveridge Group which is the centre-left wing of the LibDems (see http://www.beveridgegroup.org.uk/about-us/about-us.html).

    The Conservative Party also has its internal factions, namely:

    One Nation Conservatism – kind of the left-wing of the Tories, representing almost a corpratist outlook. Best represented by the Tory Reform Group (http://www.trg.org.uk/).

    Free-Market Conservatives – that is, Thatcherism or Reagonomics. Advocates of full-on neo-liberalism. Best represented by the Conservative Way Forward group (http://www.conwayfor.org/).

    Social Conservatives/Traditionalists – well, pretty self-explanatory. Defenders of the ‘Faith, Flag and the Family’. Best represented by the Cornerstone Group (http://cornerstonegroup.wordpress.com/about/).

    The Labour Party also has its various factions, mostly covered by the three factions of:

    Progress – representing New Labour (http://www.progressives.org.uk/)

    Compass – I guess one could say this represents Old Labour, social democratic wing (http://www.compassonline.org.uk/)

    The Modern Labour Representation Committee – Represents the more left-wing, democratic socialist part of the party (http://www.l-r-c.org.uk/)

  5. I would put you somewhere between the LibDem Beveridge Group and the Labour Compass Group; which one do you think best fits yourself? There are of course other schools of thought which I didn’t cover here, like the different wings of the Green Party for example.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s